The downtown sidewalks in Canton were abuzz with activity as a peaceful protest led by Canton businesswoman and former council member Connie Odich led the charge in the fight to reopen all Texas businesses.
Texas Governor Greg Abbott released the first phase of reopening the Texas economy on April 30, but many retailers across the state were still banned from opening their business.
While Gov. Abbott’s order allowed some businesses to open, salons, barbers, gyms and bars are not yet permitted to open, but may be able to re-open by mid-May.
The first phase of Gov. Abbott’s plan included the opening of retailers, restaurants, malls, and theaters on May 1, with a 25 percent capacity limit. Museums and libraries could also reopen at the 25 percent capacity limit, but hands-on and interactive exhibits had to remain closed. Sole proprietors could return to work. Doctors, nurse practitioners, dentists and other healthcare professionals returned to work, but all licensed hospitals must reserve 15 percent capacity for COVID-19 patients. Churches and places of worship, which were allowed to remain open during the state’s stay-at-home orders, were also allowed to expand their capacity provided safe social distancing measures are still enacted. Outdoor sports resumed with no more than four people at once, such as golf or tennis.
On the corner of almost every downtown street, signs stating, “I need a haircut,” “The Constitution is not suspended,” “Let Me Work,” and “Everyone is Essential” were written on banners and posters during the protest.
Across social media websites, business owners came together to support Odich for her plan for a peaceful protest and also called for all businesses to reopen.
Gov. Abbott’s plan called for Phase II to be put in action around mid-May. Odich stated that the governor’s plan was “crippling the business sectors in Van Zandt County.”
“We can sit by and witness our businesses and people hurting at the hands of our government, or we can stand up and voice our concerns to show Austin we are concerned and that we need to open up all businesses with no limits quickly before permanent damage is done,” said Odich.
The protest on Tuesday, May 5, attracted a large number of people, but there were rules in place that the protestors had to follow. The protestors were banned from being on Van Zandt County Courthouse property and they were not allowed to impede walking traffic or allowed to block roads around the square.